Skating schizophrenia

Day 22 #longpushtoibiza

Surlac su-Mer – Maubuisson

Waking with a dying thirst wasn’t on the cards. Not the original hand anyway and, as enjoyable as the evening was, I was somewhat regretting the undertable trade with Francois.
It was Father’s Day back on home turf and I was pleased to be able to have another long Skype chat with the folks. They seem very proud of my progress and that’s a rarely sported playing ground for conversation so I made the most of that and the wifi. My early set off for the day was on hold and so were the daily records. I had a mountain of food to prepare, too much to fit into the pack so I did my best at stuffing it into my belly instead and combining the remaining ingredients into a hearty lunch and dinner for the day.
I’m elaborating on the drawbacks of the previous evenings beers but this chance meeting brought fantastic news: my plan of pushing the roads went well out of the window when I found out the velodyssey cycle path did actually exists, regardless of what my online maps told me. Two days of skating the coastal path and traffic free routes through the pine forests elated me. I packed slowly, maxing out the capacity of my North Face rucksack and took the pleasure of a morning shower, plenty of fresh coffee and clean socks, making it out of the campsite with minutes to spare before they debited my card with another days stay.
A couple of km towards the beach, weaving through the busy resort which looked very promising for a good night out that I couldn’t have afforded of course.
Left! Just keep the beach right. The velodyssey cycle path meant a simple day concentrating on skating, smiling and following the signposts. Not particularly well placed but easy enough to follow without having to bleed my battery due to the uncertainty of my direction. The beach path was beautiful, much like many of the surfer babes decorating the shore that I tried not to stare at. The pathway was smooth for me but sandy enough to test the patience of my wheel bearings, regularly having to bail with the worry of contaminating them as my wheels would have sunk 2″ deep in some sections. Shoreline soon became the forest. Shaded, smelling delightful (the pines and even myself after the previous day’s scrub down), and wonderfully smooth. Perfect bitumen that mustn’t have seen its first birthday yet. The music flowed into my ears, the board loved me and I loved the board. Perfect in every way! And then the complete opposite. The Tarmac stopped and instantly became chip seal with huge cracks every 20yrds as the dunes it traversed split the path apart. The state of the surface was sheer hell. Hell on my wheels, hell on my bearings, my swollen knee and rattling my toes to to a numbness as of yet not experienced during my life on board. But I kept pushing, I can do this. I can do this! I can… Shit! What’s this? 1″ of gravel! I can’t do this! I picked up the board, swallowed hard and carried on on foot. Pacing hard, skipping tracks until I found the right BPM to step in time to to keep my pace up. The OAPs I’d zipped past several km back now giving me a taste of my own medicine and then, just as my heart sunk further, I spot black in the distance – the promising sign of fresh Bitumen again. I avert my eyes as not to get you hopes up but every step towards this mirage was another step towards a beautiful reality. I approach the contrast of rough to smooth, drop to the floor and kiss the ground without a single concern of anyone seeing me praying to the Lord “glass-mac”. My feet breath a sigh of relief as I’m swept along at great pace, the weight bearing on my shoulders is carried away with joy and the flat pathways become a patter of moguls seemingly built for the purpose of longboarding. Down at speed, tucking for aerodynamics delivering a speed that carries me up, over the next crest and down the otherside. My heart pounds as my smile lets out screams of sheer pleasure. I hit speeds I haven’t experienced yet on the trip and the safety of the next rise pushes any doubt of crashing to one side, leaving nothing it enjoyment. I’m at the top of my game and then… Immediately at the bottom of the barrel as I coast into surface hell once again. Stones pinging for under my wheels, cracks in the surface hammering my knees and doubling the weight of my pack as it jolts on my shoulders. I’m on foot again. Skating schizophrenia.
But the walks weren’t bad at all! If it were any normal days walk in the countryside, I’d have thoroughly enjoyed the smells, the views, the wildlife… but I had skating to do and progress to make. It wasn’t the time for idillic rambling. And don’t let me put you off this route, please. If you know what’s up ahead the highs are more than worth the lows. I’d do it again in the bat of an eyelid, just give me a few days in Ibiza first please. And maybe an MRI to find out what the fuck is going on with my lower back and sciatic nerve would be wise.
I skate into Houtin beach for a little exploration. Surfers paradise but I felt more lonely amongst others than I do out in the sticks I my own. Having sorted myself out with water and a decent coffee from the backpack larder, I headed back out into the forest again, breathing a sigh of relief as the solidarity sets in once more. I was beat! I was ready to call it a day but the caffeine and rehydration kept my legs going for another 15km until I discovered a stretch where there finally wasn’t any “no camping” signs. Ducking behind a hedge and out of sight, I checked my distance, swatting away tiny mosquitoes with a massive bite and discovering the location was named similarly to the club I used to work for in Ibiza, Maubuisson.
The minute mozzies and giant ants didn’t afford me a relaxing night watching the light disappear so I dived under the net and settled down into the remaining chapters of my book.
2 hours later I’m experiencing my first real nighttime scare of the trip. Crunch… crunch…. crunch. Louder and louder with every repetition. I search my visions of the surrounding area trying to work out what it could possibly be and my mind can only come up with one option: footsteps, crunching through the fallen pine needles, approaching with caution. I dip my torch to minimum, grab my knife and burst out of the tent ready for action. Nothing! No one. I settle again and the crunching starts within minutes. Louder and louder. One more launch into action reveals the same result. I think hard as the noise repeats and discover it’s coming from underneath my tent. Where? What? I pinpoint the location of the next crunch and see the groundsheet twitch under my torchlight… Ha, you paranoid fool Michael! A beetle! Probably considerable more confused and worried than I was as fishy the exit to his home was now covered by a tarp. So I showed him the door, giving the poor little nocturnal bugger a pathway into the night and settled down into a peaceful sleep, content with the highs and even the lows of the days good progress.


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